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In 1523 Henry VIII’s troops, lead by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, made a bold  - but ultimately unsuccessful - move to take Paris and reclaim the French throne for the English king. Nearly five hundred years later, Henry VIII is finally making it to Paris.

In partnership with the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, the Gallery is co-presenting an exhibition on the Tudor dynasty at the Musée du Luxembourg. This exciting collaboration extends the research undertaken for ‘The Real Tudors’ to consider Anglo-French relations and artistic exchange in the sixteenth century. The scale of the exhibition has also offered the opportunity to incorporate a number of important international loans and to look beyond portraiture to the broader material culture of the English renaissance.

When developing this exhibition with Tarnya Cooper and Cécile Maisonneuve, it became evident that presenting the Tudors in Paris meant that the dynasty could also be considered in a very different context to that provided by the National Portrait Gallery – that of ‘La République française’. For the Tudors have a French ‘history’ too, created by the writers, artists and composers of the nineteenth century, such as Victor Hugo, Eugène Devéria and Camille Saint-Saëns. This has allowed us to consider the notion of ‘The Real Tudors’ from an entirely different standpoint – Une dynastie. Une légende.

The timing is also perfect, for 2015 marks the 500th anniversary of the accession of François Ier. Henry’s greatest rival will be celebrated in an exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France and in terms of cultural competition their presentation in Paris will perhaps capture something of the magnificence of their meeting in 1520 at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Les Tudors, Musée du Luxembourg, 18 March – 19 July 2015

To find out more visit:

Image credits from top to bottom

Henry VIII by Studio of Hans Holbein the Younger, 1540-1550 © National Trust images/Derrick E. Witty
Francis I, after Joos van Cleve, c. 1530, Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

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